Armitage’s Take On The California Spring Trials, Day 2

Allan Armitage mixing it up with Sakata breeder Mark Seguin.
Allan Armitage mixing it up with Sakata breeder Mark Seguin.

With the hundreds of people coming through California Spring Trials (CAST) and the hundreds of ideas and plants on display, you would expect different things to appeal to different people. I listen. I nod vigorously. And at the end of the visit, I recall what has passed through my filter, likely different from the clarion of others.

So here goes, let’s wander through the trials together.

Takii

It is impossible not to be impressed with Takii’s introductions over the many years we’ve been here. They have brought many innovative plants to us, especially in the past few years. In fact, Takii plants have garnered AAS awards for the last three years. Here are a couple of this year’s plants that caught my eye.

The agastache Arizona series provides good looking pot material in three unique colors. Plants are compact, well-branched and best of all, give us wonderful fragrance — and fragrance should not be underestimated. They are produced from seed, which is going to allow the grower a tough plant at a reasonable price. I would look forward to seeing these with my eyes and nose in the 2014 season.

You cannot help but be awed by the diversity of cut flowers Takii has introduced to the market. I saw some spectacular stocks (matthiola) and was most impressed with the white and cream colors of these cuts. Others on display such as dianthus ‘First Love’ and ‘Sunrich’ sunflowers are leaders in the cut flower marketplace. Our American cut flower growers are better because of these efforts.

I was also impressed with Takii’s new Mambo and Congo series of peppers  — handsome, shiny, colorful fruit and lustrous foliage. And lastly, the experimental violas were very good. If I talk more about them, they will have to kill me — just be on the lookout for them.

OHP

I’m very impressed with Marengo pre-emergent herbicide for greenhouse use. Officially labeled for greenhouses, it is non-volatile and incredibly effective. If weeds are an issue in the greenhouse, I believe this would be a great help.

Sakata

Sakata has been responsible for such huge introductions as Majestic Giants pansies and SunPatiens. From the grower and retailer perspective, anything Sakata does to enhance those labels is good news for all. They showed new colors in Majestic Giants II, which keeps the brand alive and well. It is the most widely recognized brand of plant to American consumers, and Sakata is trying to keep it that way.

Sakata has long known that SunPatiens grow well in shade, but they are now attempting to differentiate which ones work best there. This will be a boon to growers, retailers and landscapers needing plants that perform in the shade. This is an excellent product, and new improvements to SunPatiens continue.

The Profusion zinnias, another outstanding series from Sakata, continues to improve with the introduction of new double flowers. Profusions are one of the finest zinnias to be introduced in many years and will continue to be so.

I’m a sucker for interesting vegetables, especially those that are ornamental as well as tasty. I am in love with baby broccoli, which is also known as Broccolini in grocery stores. These took my fancy because the plants were upright, so I can put more in my garden. They produce tasty broccoli-like spears. I can’t wait to plant these at home.

Another cool season veggie that caught my eye was ‘Peppermint’ chard. With its beautiful foliage and spectacular pink and white striped petioles, this is a no-brainer for use in cool seasons.

And lastly, Sakata is working hard on vegetables for smaller gardens, such as compact zucchinis, pumpkins, peppers and tomatoes. I tasted the ‘Sweet Treat’ cherry tomatoes, and I can’t wait to taste it again.

Smithers Oasis

The stop at Smithers Oasis was eye-opening. They are working on providing a variety of foam products that will allow growers to propagate and grow almost anything, focusing on rapid and full development of the root system of almost all propagules. They also have their sights set on the world of hydroponics, for which their products are eminently suited.

Greenex

As always, Greenex has some superb breeding in kalanchoes, as well as unique ideas in interesting succulents. Their kalanchoes, both single and double, are compact and come in vibrant eye-catching colors. However, the most exciting thing was their display of mini-kalanchoes and orchids that could be shown at any retail garden center or grocery store. Why don’t we use these mini-kalanchoes and orchids as a gift for mixers or to be put on a window sill or coffee table and enjoyed. The individual colors were handsome, but Greenex’s gift box of four mini-kalanchoes was brilliant. Creativity is alive and well in horticulture.

Plant Source International (PSI)

I am in awe of Plant Source International. Surrounded, flanked and smothered by intense breeders of geraniums, petunias and begonias, PSI brings a breath of fresh air to the blue-collar gardener and grower. Troy Lucht offers no excuses for his common herbs, scented geraniums, popcorn plant or common periwinkle that he brings to the marketplace. Many of his plants are not patented but are excellent plants nonetheless. I saw what all of us would consider old coleus yet they are as good as anything on the market today. Tony’s credo, “Just because it is not new, does not mean it’s not good,” makes great sense.

Hem Genetics

The celosia, petunia and dianthus at Hem Genetics are always well worth exploring. The ‘Supra’ dianthus were compact and vibrant, while their petunias, especially with the GP (garden performance) designation, were compact and well-branched in containers and promised to spread out in the landscape. These plants have good colors, great vigor and promise to have strong garden performance. It was good to see an ageratum going against the stream.Planet Blue’ is a vigorous landscape-type ageratum as opposed to the common meatball types. Hem also has a line of seed geraniums, some with excellent zonation and large flowers. I was also impressed with the Reddy series of salvia. I noted some terrific bicolors on well-branched plants with many flowers.

Thompson And Morgan

Thompson and Morgan is always a treat to visit. Their diversity of plant material is never ending. This year, we saw the Rainbow series of beets and radishes, which cannot help but make a gluttonous beet and radish eater out of you. On the flower side, I liked the Cosmix series of cosmos, a mix of colors of large flowers on sturdy, short plants. Other plants that caught my eye were some excellent vines, such as bell vine (rhodochiton) and black-eye Susan vines (thunbergia). However, the treats for me were the double-flower nasturtiums and a new split-petal form called ‘Phoenix.’

ABZ Strawberry

ABZ Strawberry is always a mouthwatering visit, with dangling fruit ready to be picked. Their introductions make any garden more interesting. Hanging baskets, containers or in the garden, ABZ has a great product.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific Plug & Liner

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, Vista Farms & PSI

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More
Latest Stories
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More

April 21, 2015

2015 Paul Ecke Jr. Scholarship Goes To Daniel Klittich

The American Floral Endowment presented University of California Davis student Daniel Klittich with the 2015 Paul Ecke Jr. Scholarship. Klittich will receive $5,000 for two consecutive years, provided he continues to meet scholarship requirements.

Read More

April 15, 2015

Redesigned SunPatiens Website Offers New Tools For Saka…

Sakata Seed America's new and improved SunPatiens website launched March 1, 2015 and provides growing information, marketing support, product location and many more tools to encourage consumer success with SunPatiens.

Read More
Farwest2015

April 15, 2015

Online Registration For FarWest 2015 Open, Discount Bef…

Online registration is now open for FarWest 2015, a green industry educational conference and tradeshow, which will take place August 27 to 29 in Portland, Ore. The show promises a full menu of classes, seminars and off-site events, plus a special benefit added this year for attendees.

Read More
Syngenta logo

April 15, 2015

Syngenta Names Chris Freeman Senior Key Account Manager…

Chris Freeman is the new senior key account manager for Syngenta Flowers, Home & Garden's Commercial Sales business in the Americas, effective March 2015. Freeman, who joined Syngenta in 2006, carries more than 25 years of experience in the agriculture and floriculture business.

Read More
Janeen Wright

April 13, 2015

Different Routes Lead To New Growth In Your Greenhouse

The path you take to success in your greenhouse may not be the well-traveled one, but the end result can still be the same — growth for you and your greenhouse business.

Read More
Restricting foliar pesticide applications on blooming plants to early morning or as dusk approaches in the evening reduces direct exposure to bees.

April 10, 2015

10 Steps For Protecting Crops And Bees

Bees stay safe and high quality crops thrive when you use bee-friendly practices designed to help both succeed. Griffin Greenhouse Supply Pro (GGSPro) has been actively discussing bee-friendly pesticide use for years. Based on its current understanding of the science and social factors at play, GGSPro currently recommends these 10 bee-friendly practices.

Read More
Lake Buchanan_LCRA

April 10, 2015

USDA Designates Areas Of West And Southwest As Drought …

The ongoing drought has resulted in disaster area designations in counties across nine Western and Southwestern states, including Texas, where some reservoirs are at or near historically low levels.

Read More

April 9, 2015

Altman Plants’ Online Cactus Shop Shows Strong Sa…

Altman Plants recently opened its new Cactus Shop, an online retail store that sells a variety of cactus and succulents. The store is a take-off of Altman’s original wholesale business, as the company started as a mail order catalog.

Read More
Dummen

April 8, 2015

Dümmen Group Welcomes Jim Devereux And Andrew Konicki T…

Dümmen group recently announced the addition of Jim Devereux and Andrew Konicki to its team. They are the newest members of the Key Account and Broker Support team for Dümmen, and will be responsible for building, developing and maintaining current broker and grower customer relationships.

Read More
Todd Woodfield

April 8, 2015

Sustainable Horticulture Pays Off

Practicing holistic horticulture has saved money and improved plant quality for Abby Farms. Its manager shares where the operation has seen differences from conventional production.

Read More
Gov._Jerry_Brown_California

April 8, 2015

California Institutes First Ever Statewide Mandatory Wa…

California Gov. Jerry Brown announced April 1 that, for the first time in state history, action will be taken to implement mandatory water restrictions, with the ultimate goal of reducing water usage by 25 percent. As Californians are pushed to conserve more, growers will need to think about how demand for products will be affected.

Read More
HRI logo

April 8, 2015

Horticultural Research Institute Accepting Scholarship …

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) is offering seven scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year, totaling $20,000. Applications will be accepted through May 31.

Read More
american-hort-logo

April 8, 2015

AmericanHort And State Associations Advocate For Workfo…

AmericanHort, along with roughly two dozen other state association partners, joined nearly 140 organizations in a letter to the House of Representatives responding to the Legal Workforce Act (H.R.1147), which is being voted on without provisions that would ensure legal workforce options for agricultural and seasonal employers. H.R.1147 would mandate that all U.S. employers use the federal E-Verify program.

Read More

April 1, 2015

Philadelphia Flower Show Draws More Than 250,000 Attend…

With more than 250,000 consumers attending the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show in March each year, it's a great opportunity to get flowers and gardening products into the public eye. This year's show displays took on family favorites at the movies, with a focus on Disney and Pixar films. Check out some of the highlights in our slideshow.

Read More
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates H…

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More
DNA-logo

March 31, 2015

DNA Green Group Will Acquire Rijnplant

DNA Green Group and Riknplant have finalized DNA Green Group's acquisition of Rijnplant, meaning that the breeding and propagation activities in pot and cut anthurium, bougainvillea and heliconia will transfer to DNA Green Group.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Hor…

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More